United States-based Zimbabwean arts and recreational practitioner, Crispen Masuka, who passed away last weekend in Pennsylvania after battling prostate cancer for a long time was a force to reckon with in the arts sector.
He was instrumental in the formation of one of Zimbabwe’s popular musical groups, the Bhundu Boys.
After having identified the potential of the band, Masuka went out of his way to convince the City Youth Services Authorities to buy the Area E Youth Club some musical instruments with which they could practice and deepen their knowledge in music.
These boys would visit Mufakose Area E Club daily to practise playing music.
Once they had become experts at playing music, Masuka advised them to look for places where they could be engaged as a group of musicians.
They eventually secured a place at a night club in Chitungwiza.
It was at this music bar where one day a British tourist was impressed with their musical performances and ended up organising their trip to London and this is where their journey to stardom began and the rest is history. Masuka’s other passion was photography, during his time with the city council, he privately pursued his passion, studied and graduated with a Diploma from Harare Polytechnic as a professional photographer.
He also sharpened his photography skills through the tutelage of Bester Kanyama and Mick Micho.
Kanyama owned Bester Kanyama Studios in Highfield. In 1980, during Zimbabwe’s celebration for Independence, Masuka was one of the official photographers and he even took one picture with reggae legend, Bob Marley, which later became very popular on the Foto-Wizard Calendars.
Born on October 25, 1948 in Chounda Village of Seke Communal lands, in a family of eight, with him being the second child, of Ronika and Amos Chamunorwa Masuka, the young boy at the age of 17 started working as a general labourer at Export Leaf Tobacco.
For his primary education, Masuka attended Dzumbunu in Seke and George Stark Primary School in Mbare National. Due to the fact that his parents could not afford to enrol him into the formal secondary education system, he had to work, as well as self-study to complete his secondary education by correspondence through the Rapid Results College lectures.
Growing up, he valued the importance of education as he took it upon himself to educate all his three brothers and four sisters, Jane, Ngoni, Joel, Ellen, Sellina, Elizabeth and Thomas.
In 1970, Masuka’s uncle, Annanias Mavimira, who worked for the then Sports Pools, helped him to secure a job as a clerk, where he worked for one year.
Later on, his father in 1971, helped him to get a job with the then Salisbury City Councils’ recreational services, as a Youth Services Official headed by Roberts. Roberts, whose offices were based at Stodart Hall in Mbare, was the youth and recreational services director.
Roberts also worked with Amos Masuka in the British Army during the Second World War up to 1945 when they were both demobilised.
During his work career in the youth services of the city council, Masuka was based at Chinembiri Youth Centre, together with his workmates, teacher Martin Mangodza and teacher Gorden.
He is survived by his wife Irene, and 4 children — Taurai, Gregory, Simbirai and Chipo, as well as four grandchildren.